Archive | December 5th, 2014

The Mockingjay of Palestine: “If we burn, you burn with us…”



Raed Mu’anis was my best friend. The small scar on top of his left eyebrow was my doing at the age of five. I urged him to quit hanging on a rope where my mother was drying our laundry. He wouldn’t listen, so I threw a rock at him.

I didn’t mean for the rock hit him, but it did. My father dragged to me to his house kicking and screaming, while carrying a colourful rubber ball and a doll for gifts. I was mostly embarrassed that I hurt my best friend.

Several years later, Raed, now 15, was shot by Israeli soldiers as he helped our neighbours dig a grave for a kindly man who was killed by Israeli troops earlier in the day, while performing Eid prayers.

On that day, my father had taken us to extend holiday greetings to relatives in a nearby refugee camp in Gaza when the “Eid Massacre” took place in my home camp of Nuseirat. Every holiday there seemed to be a massacre. Nuseirat, the rebellious camp of resilient refugees was chosen on that particular Muslim holiday to be taught a lesson. Raed was one of that day’s many victims.

A friend told me that Raed was bleeding profusely as he ramblingly walked soon after the Israeli army chopper shot him. He arrived to my house, which was adjacent to the graveyard, and desperately knocked at the door yelling my mother’s name: “Auntie Zarefah, please open the door!”

But my mother was already dead. She was buried in the “martyrs’ graveyard,” where my grandparents, both refugees from historic Palestine, were also laid to rest. The tiny grave of my oldest brother, Anwar was also there. He died at the age of two because my father had no money to treat him at a proper hospital. Raed is now buried only a few feet away.

I could have never imagined myself drawing parallels between Nuseirat, and its heroic people and a Hollywood movie; the struggle of my people is too sacred to make such comparisons. But I couldn’t help it as I watched the latest from the Hunger Games franchise, “Mockingjay.” A feeling of anger initially overwhelmed me when I saw the districts destroyed by the heartless rulers of the Capitol. As I watched the movie, only Palestine, but particularly the Gaza resistance was on my mind.

The Capitol – with unmatched military technology and access to an enormous media apparatus – was unstoppable in its brutality. Its rulers, who claimed to have superiority over all the inhabitants of the dystopia of Panem, had no moral boundaries whatsoever.

The Hunger Games, the story’s version of a reality television show, was created as an annual event to celebrate the victory of Capitol over a previous revolt by the districts. It also served as a reminder of what the Capitol was capable of if anyone dared to rise up again in the future. The show’s participants – mostly children who were chosen or volunteered in a process called the “reaping” – came from every district. The contestants had to kill one another for the amusement of the Capitol, which drew its strength from the division and oppression of others.

But the districts rebelled. They ought to. They resisted because there can be no other response to systematic oppression but resistance. District 13 was annihilated early on so that the rest of the districts dare not entertain any ideas aside from the Capitol’s insistence that resistance is futile. Panem’s ruthless president was adamant at referring to those who defied the Capitol as “radicals,” and not “rebels.” At times, the Capitol tried to turn the districts against one another, inciting civil war.

The Gaza connection became too stark to miss when Katniss, one of the early “tributes,” and the symbolic “Mockingjay” of the resistance uttered these words soon after the Capitol bombers destroyed a hospital full of unarmed men, women and children, killing everyone: “I want to tell the people that if you think for one second the Capitol will treat us fairly if there’s a cease-fire, you’re deluding yourself. Because you know who they are and what they do.” The similarities in this drama were eerily similar to the bombing and complete destruction of al-Wafa hospital in Gaza in late July of this year, the only rehabilitation centre in the strip for thousands of victims of Israeli atrocities.

Her message to the Capitol: “You can torture us and bomb us and burn our districts to the ground, but do you see that? Fire is catching! And if we burn, you burn with us!”

It is as if the author of the Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins knows so much about Gaza; as if she had fashioned her stories to tell of a real fight between a brutal Capitol, called Israel, and rebellious districts called Palestine; it is as if Gaza is district 13; and that despite attempts at repeated annihilation for the last 65 years, but particularly two genocidal wars in 2008-9 and 2014, the resistance is still alive.

Does Collins know that Katniss, who didn’t choose such a fate, but had to step up in defence of her people, is represented in thousands of men, women, and yes, children of Gaza? Does she know that her stories were already written and enacted by real people, who may never have heard of her franchise and may never live to watch her movies? Does she know that criminal leaders such as President Snow are not something of fantasy, but they actually exist, here today in the persons of Benjamin Netanyahu and countless other Israeli leaders who call for the absolute annihilation of Gazans at a whim?

As for Gaza’s Hunger Games, the similarities are uncanny.

Just before Israel imposed sever economic sanctions on Gaza, to punish Palestinians for the result of their democratic elections, top Israeli government advisor, Dov Weisglass made a spine-chilling promise: “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” (AFP, February 16, 2006). This was not a passing statement.

After much legal wrangling, an Israeli human rights group, Gisha,managed to obtain documents that showed that Israel’s official policy in Gaza since then was that of “deliberate policy of near-starvation,” and that “security” had nothing to do with the Gaza blockade.

In Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, over 1,400 Palestinians were killed and 5,500 wounded. But in Israel’s latest war the price tag for resistance was increased to 2137. More are still dying from their wounds.

Gaza stands in ruins. Entire neighbourhoods were destroyed, villages erased and whole families annihilated. Hundreds of schools, hospitals and mosques were blown up in an orgy of death and destruction unprecedented.

Yet the resistance is yet to be defeated in Gaza. Because resistance is not men and women with guns. Resistance is an idea, pure in its intentions, romantic, at times, maybe, but certainly the work of an entire collective, who had chosen to die fighting, if they must, but never live carrying the shackles of a slave.

Not even the chilling words of Moshe Feiglin, deputy speaker of the Israeli parliament (Knesset) were enough to intimidate Gaza. In his Facebook plan to destroy the resistance on 1 August, 2014, Feiglin called for the “conquest of the entire Gaza Strip, and annihilation of all fighting forces and their supporters,” in addition to pushing its remaining inhabitants into concentration camps near the Sinai desert. “In these areas, tent encampments will be established, until relevant emigration destinations are determined.”

Feiglin, and his prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, among many others in Israel’s political and military establishment, are real life leaders of the Capitol, which is allowed to operate with complete impunity against the oppressed districts of Palestine.

And like the Mockingjay which was resurrected against great odds, Gaza will remain the rebellious district. The blood of its “near-starved” children will someday unite all districts against the Capitol. Then, all the voices that doubted the wisdom of the resistance will be diminished by the loud, but harmonious chanting of a united people. As the resistance continues, Palestinians everywhere will express their victory and defiance with by raising four fingers, Egypt’s “raba’a”, just as the rebels of the 13 districts expressed by raising three.

Till then, the Mockingjay of Palestine, the thousands of living martyrs will continue to circulate the skies singing the song of a rebellious nation.

“Are you, Are you

Coming to the tree

Where I told you to run, so we’d both be free

Strange things did happen here

No stranger would it be

If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree.”

If only the other districts would rise…

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The Eric Garner case exposes a huge problem with how we hold police officers accountable



As protests sweep the country, it’s time to think critically about the flaws in our justice system. The biggest one involves the conflict of interest that comes when local prosecutors are tasked with charging the police officers already they work with.

“Richmond County District Attorney Daniel Donovan, like his counterpart Bob McCulloch in St. Louis County, is operating under an inherent conflict of interest,” explains Mic‘s Gregory Krieg. “When prosecutors are tasked with investigating and charging police officers, they’re being asked to punish members of an organization who are tightly intertwined with their own operations — a big obstacle to ensuring that justice is done.”

+ “#BlackLivesMatter has been our rallying cry, our plea to be human. I understand why the phrase was coined. But I no longer believe it to be true.”

+ Jon Stewart on the Garner decision: “I honestly don’t know what to say.”

+ When is it OK for a police officer to kill an unarmed black man? Check this chart.

+ If you’re angry over Michael Brown and Eric Garner, this South Carolina case may give you hope.

+ #AliveWhileBlack exposes the ugly truth about everyday racism.

The police officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice never should have been given a gun
MicCleveland police officer Tim Loehmann, who fatally shot Rice for waving a fake gun at the park two seconds after arriving on the scene, was found unfit for duty two years ago.

+ A letter in Loehmann’s personnel file from his brief tenure at the Independence (Ohio) Police Department gave him dismal reviews and pointed out several flaws in the his abilities. These flaws resulted in his eventual resignation.

+ During Loehmann’s time at the suburban police department, he “had issues with handling guns.” The Independence Police Department described his behavior during firearms training and qualification as “distracted” and “weepy.”

+ Despite this, a St. Louis County police officer used the department’s account on Thursday to blame Rice for his own death. Why the St. Louis County police are commenting on this, we just don’t know.

+ A separate federal investigation uncovered a pattern of excessive force and abuse of power by the Cleveland police.

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The Jewish State and Gilad Atzmon

BY Christopher Bollyn
Book Review: The Wandering Who? – A Study of Jewish Identity Politics by Gilad Atzmon, Zero Books, 2011

Zionism has failed for various reasons. Zionism could never have prevailed. It has been entangled with an endless list of sins from day one.
– Gilad Atzmon, The Wandering Who?

Gilad Atzmon is a gifted and articulate Israeli dissident who presents a rather grim but realistic prognosis of Zionism and the Jewish state in his book, The Wandering Who? – A Study of Jewish Identity Politics.  Atzmon’s critique of Jewish identity politics, Zionism, and Israel is timely reading given the collapse of the Israeli government over a controversial law that would redefine the State of Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people.”

The fundamental question about the proposed “Jewish state” law is this: Will it promote peace? Given the violent reaction to the proposal of the bill it seems obvious that it will not solve any of the pressing political problems in Palestine and would only exacerbate the very real tension between Jews and Palestinians in the Holy Land if it were adopted into law.

According to Atzmon, it is precisely the ethno-centric notion that Israel should be “the Jewish state” which prevents it from being a normal and peaceful nation:

Israel is the Jewish state and Jewishness is an ethno-centric ideology driven by exclusiveness, exceptionalism, racial supremacy and a deep inherent inclination toward segregation. For Israel and Israelis to become people like other people, all traces of Jewish ideological superiority must be eliminated first. For the Jewish state to lead a peace initiative, Israel must be de-Zionised – it should first stop being the Jewish State.

I happened to meet Gilad Atzmon when our paths crossed in Portland, Oregon, in September. I had the chance to talk to him and wanted to ask him if he was related to Menachem Atzmon, the key Israeli defendant in the 9-11 tort litigation. Gilad was quick to answer and said that he is indeed related to Menachem Atzmon.

Menachem Atzmon is a former Likud party co-treasurer who, along with Ehud Olmert was charged with illegal campaign financing in Israel. Although Atzmon had been working with Ehud Olmert, Atzmon was convicted while Olmert was not. Olmert, the former mayor of Jerusalem and prime minister, has since been convicted and sentenced to prison on other charges involving accepting illegal funds.

Atzmon went on to head an Israeli security company called International Consultants on Targeted Security (ICTS), which is based in Holland. ICTS happens to be the parent company of Huntleigh USA, the former American company that managed passenger screening operations at Boston’s Logan Airport on 9-11. ICTS was the key defendant in the 9-11 tort litigation but was excused from the process by a decision of the federal judge Alvin K. Hellerstein. It should be noted that there was a blatant conflict of interest in Judge Hellerstein’s management of the 9-11 tort litigation. While Judge Hellerstein was overseeing the tort litigation, his son, Joseph, was living in Israel (on an illegal settlement) and working in a law firm that represented the parent company of ICTS.

Gilad not only confirmed that he was related to Menachem Atzmon, but added that he is also related to Nathan Friedman-Yellin (a.k.a. Nathan Yellin-Mor) the Zionist activist from Grodno who worked closely with Avraham Stern and migrated to Palestine in 1941 to found LEHI, the radical Jewish terrorist group also known as the Stern Gang.

After Stern’s death, Yellin-Mor became the political leader of LEHI along with Yitzhak Shamir (operations) and Israel Eldad (propaganda). Yellin-Mor was one of the planners of the assassination in Cairo of Lord Moyne, the British minister of state in the Middle East, in November 1944. Yellin-Mor was also found guilty of “leadership of a terrorist organization” after LEHI assassins murdered the Swedish Count Folke Bernadotte, who was serving as United Nations emissary in Jerusalem in September 1948. Although Yellin-Mor and LEHI member Matityahu “Matty” Shmuelevitz were found guilty on January 25, 1949, and Yellin-Mor was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment, both terrorists were pardoned shortly after the trial.

TERRORIST ASSASSINS Nathan (Friedman) Yellin-Mor (center) and Matty Shmuelevitz (left) in 1949 after being pardoned for having murdered the Swedish Count Folke Bernadotte, the UN special envoy to Palestine, in September 1948. Yellin-Mor then joined the first Knesset (government) of Israel. Shmuelevitz shares the family name with the mother of Rahm Emanuel.  Emanuel’s father, Benjamin (Auerbach) Emanuel, was also a member of the terrorist LEHI group and married Marsha Smulevitz. There is a resemblance in the face of Matty and Rahm Emanuel. Shmuelevitz went on the be the chief-of-staff for Menachem Begin.

Matty Shmuelevitz served as the “director general” of Begin’s office.  I would guess that Matty is the man on the far left in this photo from 1983.  At this point the plans for 9-11 had already begun and the stage was being set in the United States for the biggest false-flag terror attack in history.  If Rahm Emanuel is related to Matty Shmuelevitz, as I suggest, then we can understand the role Emanuel played in setting the stage during the Clinton administrations, when he served as a special advisor to the president.

So, when Gilad Atzmon says that Zionism has “been entangled with an endless list of sins from day one,” he knows what he is talking about. He does not hide the fact that he was raised in a family that is tied to Jewish terrorism. As he says in the opening lines of his book:

My grandfather was a charismatic, poetic, veteran Zionist terrorist. A former prominent commander in the right-wing Irgun terror organization…

His family’s relationship to Zionist terrorism gives Gilad Atzmon’s perspective an authenticity that is lacking in much of the literature about Zionism and Israel. Atzmon is more than just another critical Israeli who grew up during the time of the Six-Day War (1967), the Yom Kippur War (1973), and the invasion of Lebanon (1982) – his ancestors are among the key terrorists behind the creation of the state of Israel and, as we now know, one of his relatives played a key role in the false-flag terrorism of 9-11.

Atzmon’s insights about Israel and Jewish identity politics come from a dissident who was raised in a family of dedicated Zionists. This is why I think his critique of Zionism is one of the essential books of our time. Most Americans have very little, if any, understanding of what Zionism means in reality although their government is the most important financier and political supporter of the “Jewish state.” This lack of understanding is intentional, of course. The history of Israel is not taught in our universities and our controlled media presents an utterly false image of what Zionism is all about.

If the history of Zionism were taught at our universities, Atzmon’s book would certainly be on the reading list because it is the voice of an honest and articulate Israeli dissident:

As a young Israeli I believed in the Zionist ethos, I regarded myself an inherent part of the Jewish modern revival project. I saw myself as part of Jewish history, and Jewish history as an extension of myself. As a young Israeli growing up in the post-1967 era, I saw myself and the people around me as an evolving collective consciousness, fighting a revolutionary battle for historic justice…

As a young secular Israeli Jew, I believed enthusiastically in the possibility of transformation of the Jewish character into a ‘civilised, authentic humanist collective’. I believed myself to be one. I then grasped, through a long and painful process that Israel wouldn’t bring about a humanist Jew. It was entangled in a colossal sin and it was far too arrogant to save itself from its doomed circumstances.

Although the U.S. government is the primary supporter of the state of Israel and the assembled members of Congress gave twenty-nine standing ovations to its extreme right-wing prime minister, most Americans, Jews and Gentiles alike, function with “an imaginary Israel” in their mind, something that they want to believe in, but which bears no resemblance to reality. As I often say about naïve apologists for Israel: They simply do not understand the nature of the beast.

This is why I find the following extract from Atzmon’s book to be the most important. It explains in plain English the essence of “the Jewish state”:

One may be left perplexed on learning that just three years after the liberation of Auschwitz (1945) the newly-formed Jewish state ethnically cleansed the vast majority of the indigenous population of Palestine (1948). Just five years after the end of World War Two, the Jewish state brought to life racially-discriminatory return laws in order to prevent the 1948 Palestinian refugees from coming back to their cities, villages, fields and orchards. These laws, still in place today, were not categorically different from the notorious Nazi Nuremberg Laws.

These are the essential facts about “the Jewish state” that need to be taken into consideration when we discuss the state of Israel. The well-written Atzmon critique is contained in a small book of about 200 pages yet he manages to deftly handle all of the main issues of Jewish identity politics and Zionism with intelligence and humor.

There is one point where Atzmon and I do not agree. In several places he says, “I do not believe in Jewish conspiracies; everything is done in the open.” I, on the other hand, think that a great deal of Zionist planning is done in secret societies, like the B’nai B’rith, the parent organization of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and Hillel. The Zionist planning of the false-flag terrorism of 9-11, for example, was clearly done behind closed doors in a secret society where oaths of secrecy have been sworn.  Such secret societies exist for a reason and secrecy is the most important aspect of such organizations.

I asked Gilad about this statement and told him that my reading of Zionist history revealed that secret societies like the B’nai Moshe, B’nai B’rith, and others, played key roles in creating the Zionist fervor in Eastern Europe in the late 1800s and beyond. One source in particular, the Encyclopedia of Zionism and Israel, by Raphael Patai, Herzl Press, 1971, has many articles about these secret societies.

He wrote back agreeing that this “could be an open subject to debate.”

Sources:  Atzmon, Gilad, The Wandering Who? – A Study of Jewish Identity Politics, Zero Books (UK), 2011 .

“Begin’s legacy:  ‘Yehiel, it ends today’ – The day that Menachem Begin announced he would resign as prime minister,” by Shlomo Nakdimon, Ha’aretz (Israel), February 22, 2012 

“Bollyn meets Gilad Atzmon” by Christopher Bollyn, September 23, 2014

“Gilad Atzmon Confirms Shaul Eisenberg Connection to ICTS” by Christopher Bollyn, November 6, 2014 


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Hardly A Debate – Gilad Atzmon vs. Geoffrey Alderman


Discussing Bibi, Tzipi and Yair

Yesterday I was invited by Press TV to participate in their daily program, ‘The Debate.’ In the last few years I have occasionally participated on the show. Usually I am confronted with banal Hasbara mouthpieces.  I tend to demolish their arguments within the first round of questions.

Yesterday, I was asked to debate professor Geoffrey Alderman – an avid Zionist academic. To my great surprise Alderman and I agreed on pretty much everything:  we had similar views on Israeli politics, the nature of the Jewish State, Netanyahu’s Politics, Netanyahu’s engineered crisis, Jewish Lobby Domination in the West and other topics. Fascinating exchange but hardly a debate.

Watch the full program on Press TV‘s website

For the last decade I have been chased by Jewish ‘anti’ Zionists who wrote Jewish petitions against me and tried every Talmudic trick to silence my criticism of Jewish power and Jewish ID politics.  I have also been harassed by some Trotskyites and even a list of 20 Palestinians who called for my ‘disavowal.’  These attempts to stop me achieved the opposite – if anything, they proved my point regarding Jewish dissent being a corrosive controlled opposition apparatus.

In all this time, not a single one of my Jewish anti Zionist or Trotskyite detractors have had the guts to debate me. But somehow, rabid Zionists and hard-core Hasbara agents are made from different materials. They must have have a modicum of dignity and confidence in their system.

My conclusion may upset some. As a thinker and an artist stimulated by challenge and titillated by intellectual provocation, I prefer to deal with hard core Zionists and Israeli Right wing ideologues rather than with the so-called ‘anti’ and their culture of deceit.  At least with Zionists, I know exactly what I am up against.

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The War on Syria, Who is Behind the Terrorists? President Bashar Al-Assad

Global Research

The Full Paris Match interview of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, granted in Damascus on November 28th. 


Paris Match: Let’s talk about ISIS. Some people say that the Syrian regime encouraged the rise of Islamic extremists in order to divide the opposition. How do you respond to that?

Bashar el Assad : In Syria we have a state, not a regime. Let’s agree on the terms first. Second, assuming that what you are saying is true, that we supported ISIS, this means that we have asked this organization to attack us, attack military airports, kill hundreds of soldiers, and occupy cities and villages. Where is the logic in that? What do we gain from it? Dividing and weakening the opposition, as you are saying? We do not need to undermine those elements of the opposition. The West itself is saying that it was a fake opposition. This is what Obama himself said. So, this supposition is wrong, but what is the truth? The truth is that ISIS was created in Iraq in 2006. It was the United States which occupied Iraq, not Syria. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was in American prisons, not in Syrian prisons. So, who created ISIS, Syria or the United States?


Paris Match: Mr. President, three years into this war, and considering how things have turned out, do you regret that you haven’t managed things differently at the beginning, with the appearance of the first signs of the revolution in March 2011? Do you feel that you are responsible for what happened?

Bashar el Assad: Even in the first days of the events, there were martyrs from the army and the police; so, since the first days of this crisis we have been facing terrorism. It is true that there were demonstrations, but they were not large in number. In such a case, there is no choice but to defend your people against terrorists. There’s no other choice. We cannot say that we regret fighting terrorism since the early days of this crisis. However, this doesn’t mean that there weren’t mistakes made in practice. There are always mistakes. Let’s be honest: had Qatar not paid money to those terrorists at that time, and had Turkey not supported them logistically, and had not the West supported them politically, things would have been different. If we in Syria had problems and mistakes before the crisis, which is normal, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the events had internal causes.

Paris Match: Your army is blamed for its excessive use of force during this war. Why are civilians shelled?

Bashar el Assad : When a terrorist attacks you with weapons, how do you defend yourself and your people, with dialogue?! The army uses weapons when the other side uses them. For us in Syria, it is impossible to have our objective as shelling civilians. There’s no reason to shell civilians. If we are killing civilians, in other words killing our people, fighting terrorists at the same time, and fighting the states which stand against us and which support terrorists, like the Gulf countries, Turkey, and the West, how could we stand for four years? If we haven’t been defending the people, we wouldn’t have been able to stand all this pressure. Consequently, saying that we are shelling civilians doesn’t make any sense.

Paris Match: Satellite imagery of the cities of Homs and Hama show completely destroyed neighborhoods; and the United Nations, of which your country is a member, talks about 190,000 people having been killed in this war. Were all the people in those neighborhoods terrorists?

Bashar el Assad : First of all, you need to verify the figures provided by the United Nations. What are the sources of these figures? The figures being circulated in the world, particularly in the media, are exaggerated and inaccurate. Second, images of destruction are not only obtained through satellite images, they are there actually on the ground, and they are accurate. When terrorists enter a certain region and occupy it, the army has to liberate it, and there is a battle. So, naturally, there is destruction. But in most cases, when terrorists enter a certain area, civilians flee from it. In fact, the largest number of victims in Syria is among the supporters of the state, not the other way round; and a large number of those were killed in terrorist attacks. Of course, when you have war and terrorism innocent people die. This happens everywhere in the world. But it is impossible for a state to target civilians.

Paris Match: According to the United Nations too, there are three million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries, what amounts to one eighth of Syria’s population. Are all those allied with terrorists?

Bashar el Assad : No, no. Those who left Syria are generally people who left because of terrorism. There are those who support terrorism, and there are those who support the state but left because of the security situation. There is also a significant number of those who do not support any side.

Paris Match: From a military perspective, do you have the means which enable you to win this war?

President Assad: Now we are fighting states, not only gangs. Billions of dollars are spent on those gangs. They receive arms from different countries, including Turkey. So, it is not an easy war from a military perspective. Nevertheless, the Syrian Army is winning in many places. On the other hand, no one can say how this war will end or when. But the major war for them in the beginning was how to win the hearts of the Syrians; and they have lost this war. The communities which embraced terrorists have become very small, and that is the reason why the army is winning. So, we have to look at this war militarily, socially, and politically.

Paris Match: But they haven’t lost yet, since half your territories are out of your control.

Bashar el Assad : The Syrian Army doesn’t have a presence everywhere, and it’s impossible for it to be everywhere. Consequently, in any place that the Syrian Army doesn’t have a presence, terrorists cross the borders and enter that region. But the Syrian Army has been able to regain control over any region it decided to enter. This is not a war between two armies where you can say that they took a certain part and we took another part. The war now is not like that. We are talking about terrorist groups which suddenly infiltrate a city or a village. That’s why it’s going to be a long and difficult war.

Paris Match: Many people say that the solution lies in your departure. Do you believe that your departure is the solution?

Bashar el Assad :  The president of any state in the world takes office through constitutional measures and leaves office through constitutional measures as well. No President can be installed or deposed through chaos. The tangible evidence for this is the outcome of the French policy when they attacked Gaddafi. What was the result? Chaos ensued after Gaddafi’s departure. So, was his departure the solution? Have things improved, and has Libya become a democracy? The state is like a ship; and when there is a storm, the captain doesn’t run away and leave his ship to sink. If passengers on that ship decided to leave, the captain should be the last one to leave, not the first.

Paris Match: This means that the captain is prepared to die. You talked about Gaddafi. Do you fear facing the same fate and to meet your death like Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi?

Bashar el Assad : A captain doesn’t think of life and death, he thinks of saving his ship. If the ship sinks, everybody will die, so we would rather save the country. But I want to stress an important point here. Remaining president had never been my objective, before, during, or after the crisis. But we as Syrians will never accept that Syria become a western puppet state. This is one of our most important objectives and principles.

Paris Match: Let’s talk about ISIS. Some people say that the Syrian regime encouraged the rise of Islamic extremists in order to divide the opposition. How do you respond to that?

Bashar el Assad : In Syria we have a state, not a regime. Let’s agree on the terms first. Second, assuming that what you are saying is true, that we supported ISIS, this means that we have asked this organization to attack us, attack military airports, kill hundreds of soldiers, and occupy cities and villages. Where is the logic in that? What do we gain from it? Dividing and weakening the opposition, as you are saying? We do not need to undermine those elements of the opposition. The West itself is saying that it was a fake opposition. This is what Obama himself said. So, this supposition is wrong, but what is the truth? The truth is that ISIS was created in Iraq in 2006. It was the United States which occupied Iraq, not Syria. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was in American prisons, not in Syrian prisons. So, who created ISIS, Syria or the United States?

Paris Match: The Syrians we meet in Damascus talk about sleeping Jihadi cells in the West more than they talk about the war against ISIS. Isn’t that strange?

Bashar el Assad : Terrorism is an ideology, not an organization or a structure; and ideology doesn’t acknowledge any borders. 20 years ago, terrorism used to be exported from our region, particularly from Gulf countries, like Saudi Arabia. Now, it is coming to our region from Europe, especially from France. The largest percentage of the European terrorists coming to Syria are French; and you had a number of incidents in France. There was also an attack in Belgium against a Jewish museum. So, terrorism in Europe is no longer asleep, it is being awakened.

Paris Match: The Americans, in their war against ISIS, are tactical allies. Do you still think that their intervention constitutes a violation of national sovereignty?
Bashar el Assad : First, you said that it is tactical, and this is an important point. You know that tactics without a strategy do not produce results, so it will not defeat terrorism. It is an illegal intervention, first because it is not authorized by a Security Council resolution, and second because it did not respect the sovereignty of a state, Syria, in this case. So, it is an illegal intervention, and consequently constitutes a violation of sovereignty.

Paris Match: According to Agence France Presse, your air forces made at least 2,000 sorties in 40 days, and this is a huge number. When your aircraft cross the alliance’s aircraft, for instance on their way to shell Raqqa, do you coordinate or do you have a non-aggression agreement?

Bashar el Assad : There is no direct coordination. We attack terrorism everywhere, regardless of what the United States, or the alliance it leads, is doing. You might find it strange that the number of daily Syrian air strikes against terrorists is larger than that launched by the alliance. There’s no coordination; and at the same time you need to realize that the alliance’s airstrikes are merely cosmetic.

Paris Match: But these airstrikes are helping you, and one reason why U.S. Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel resigned is that he believed that they support your government and your positions.

Bashar el Assad : Don’t you see that this question contradicts the earlier question, in which you said that we support ISIS? This means that we are ISIS’s enemies.

Paris Match: I said that some people say, sometimes, that you have supported ISIS to divide the opposition.

Bashar el Assad : And I didn’t mean “you” by my remark, I meant “those” people.

Bashar al-Assad and Paris Match reporter Régis Le Sommier© Paris Match

Paris Match: Since one result of the alliance’s airstrikes, from an American perspective, was Chuck Hagel’s resignation, do you think that the alliance’s airstrikes are helping you?

Bashar el Assad : Terrorism cannot be destroyed from the air, and you cannot achieve results on the ground without land forces who know the geographical details of the regions and move in tandem with the airstrikes. That’s why, and after two months of the alliance’s airstrikes, there are no tangible results on the ground in that direction. And that’s why saying that the alliance’s airstrikes are helping us is not true. Had these airstrikes been serious and effective, I would have said that they would be certainly useful to us. But we are the ones fighting the battles against ISIS on the ground, and we haven’t felt any change, particularly that Turkey is still extending direct support to ISIS in those regions.

Paris Match: On July 14th, 2008, you stood on the presidential podium in the Champs Elysees on the sidelines of the Mediterranean summit. Today, the French government considers you an outcast. How do you feel about that?

Bashar el Assad : The good relationship which extended from 2008 to 2011 was not based on a French initiative. It had two sides: the first was an American effort to make the French government influence the Syrian role, particularly in relation to Iran. The second side was a result of Qatar urging France to improve relations with Syria. So, the good relations with France had American and Qatari motives and were not the product of an independent will. Today, there is no difference since both administrations, I mean those of Sarkozy and Hollande, are not independent.

Paris Match: Francois Hollande still considers you an opponent. Do you believe that you can revive relations with him some time in the future?

Bashar el Assad: The issue has nothing to do with personal relations, for I don’t know him to start with. It has to do with relations between states and institutions, relations based on the interests of two nations. When there is any French official, or French government, seeking mutual interests, we will deal with them. But this administration is acting equally against the interests of our people and against the interests of the French people. As for him considering me a personal enemy, I don’t see the logic of that. I’m not competing with Hollande for anything. I believe that Hollande’s competitor in France now is ISIS, because his popularity is close to that of ISIS.

Paris Match: Are there chemical weapons in Syria today, yes or no?
Bashar el Assad : No. When we announced this, it was a clear announcement, and when we decided to abandon chemical weapons, our decision was final.

Paris Match: But U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry accuses you of violating the agreement because you used chlorine. Is that true?

Bashar el Assad : You can find chlorine in any house in Syria. Everyone has chlorine, and any group can use it. But we haven’t used it because we have traditional weapons which are more effective than chlorine, and we do not need to use it. We are fighting terrorists, and using traditional weapons without concealing that or being shy about it. So, we don’t need chlorine. These accusations do not surprise us; for when did the Americans say anything true about the crisis in Syria?

Paris Match: Have you used chemical weapons?

Bashar el Assad : We haven’t used this kind of weapons; and had we used it anywhere, tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people would have died. It’s impossible for these weapons to kill, as it was claimed last year, only one hundred people or two hundred people, particularly in areas where hundreds of thousands, and maybe millions, of Syrians live.

Paris Match: In your latest visit to Paris in November 2010, I conducted an interview with your wife, Mrs. Asmaa al-Assad. Do you miss traveling outside the borders of your country?

Bashar el Assad : Traveling is not one of my hobbies anyway; and my visits were not for tourism, but for work. What I truly miss is Syria as it was. This is what we miss. And of course we miss the existence of a different world, a world which has logical and moral relations. At that time, we used to have great expectations for the development of our region, for more intellectual openness. We used to believe that France, with its cultural heritage, is the country which is most capable of playing this role with Syria in the Middle East.

Paris Match: Your wife used to consider herself an ambassador of modernity. How does she live in Syria, and how does she feel about what is happening in Syria, particularly that she hasn’t left the country?

Bashar el Assad : Like all Syrians, she feels pain. Both of us feel pain for the destruction and the blood we see in Syria, to see Syria going backwards decades and not years. It’s painful to see the country which used to be one of the top five countries in the world in terms of security become a safe haven for terrorists. It is also painful for both my wife and I to see our belief that the West will help us in our bid for development and openness go in the opposite direction, and what is even worse, to see the West having allies among these medieval states in the Gulf, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Paris Match: People describe you as being very close to your children. How do you explain to them what is happening to your country when you return home in the evening?

Bashar el Assad : Of course, this discussion goes on in every Syrian house now; and the most difficult thing in this discussion is when you deal with children whose social consciousness has developed during this crisis. There are two basic questions asked, not only in our family but in many families. The first question: how can people who believe or say they are defending God and Islam kill and murder? This is a case which is not easy to explain, and children ask whether these people know that they are wrong. And the answer here is that there are those who know but make use of religion for private purposes, and there are ignorant people who do not know that religion is good. They think, instead, that religion means killing.

The second question: why does the West launch an aggression against us, and why does it support terrorists and destruction? Of course, they do not say the West in general, they specify certain countries, including the United States, France, and Britain. Why do they do that? Have we done anything to hurt them? We also explain to them that people are something, and states are something else.

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Challenging I$raHell House Demolition Policy

Global Research

Lawless by any standard. Ruthlessness writ large. Targeting Palestinians. Not Jews. Imagine the following.

Israel accuses a Palestinian family member or apartment building resident of violent criminality. With or without corroborating evidence.

It doesn’t matter. The alleged offender automatically called a “terrorist.” House demolition follows.

Collectively punishing everyone in it. Including the alleged offender. Even if innocent.

In 2005, Israel ceased punitive house demolitions. Deeming them counterproductive. Not achieving their claimed purpose – “deterrence.” Creating justifiable hatred and hostility.

In June, Israel about-faced. Reinstating its punitive house demolition policy. Targeting state-designated “terrorists.”

In response to the abduction of three Israeli youths. At the time, a suspect’s home was targeted for demolition. So were dozens of others in the West Bank. Unrelated to the incident.

In July, HaMoked petitioned Israel’s defense minister, attorney general and West Bank military commander. Arguing against resumed demolitions.

Weeks later a response came, saying:

“The security establishment is well aware of the ramifications of the exercise of the power granted (under British Mandate period law) to demolish the houses of terrorists, and therefore said power is exercise very prudently.”

Israeli policy contradicts rhetoric. House demolitions are punitive. Targeting Palestinians alone. Not Jews.

Israel claims a lawless failed policy works. Effectively fighting terrorism. Preventing future attacks. Despite no evidence proving it. Plenty showing otherwise.

The HaMoked Center for the Defense of the Individual and seven other human rights groups petitioned Israel’s High Court of Justice (HCJ).

Challenging punitive house demolitions. Wanting them stopped. Urging Israel’s HCJ to rule accordingly. Against an illegal policy.

A fundamental notion that no one should be punished for acts of others. Fourth Geneva’s Article 53 states:

“Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.”

Under Article 33, “”no protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed.”

“Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited…Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.”

Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) director Jeff Halper calls Israel’s policy “atavistic revenge.”

A flagrant Fourth Geneva violation. Halper saying:

“Not only do punitive demolitions violate the basic principle of due process of law, the home in question belonging only to a suspect, but the targeting and punishing of a suspect’s family members innocent of any crime through the demolition of their home constitutes (illegal) collective punishment…”

In response to numerous appeals, Israel’s HCJ consistently supported the policy. With rare exceptions.

Israel’s legal system “disconnect(s) law from justice,” says Halper. Letting the state violate international law with impunity.

“(T)urning itself into an instrument of oppression.” State terror. According to an anonymous international law expert:

“International law is the language of the world and it’s more or less the yardstick by which we measure ourselves today.”

“It’s the lingua franca of international organizations. So you have to play the game if you want to be a member of the world community.”

“And the game works like this. As long as you claim you are working within international law and you come up with a reasonable argument as to why what you are doing is within the context of international law, you’re fine. That’s how it goes.”

“This is a very cynical view of how the world works. So, even if you’re being inventive, or even if you’re being a bit radical, as long as you can explain it in that context, most countries will not say you’re a war criminal.”

Even if clear evidence shows otherwise. Israel has two legal systems. One for Jews. The other for Palestinian Arabs.

Homes of Jews committing violent crimes aren’t destroyed. Palestinians are treated otherwise.

Declared guilty by accusation. No matter the alleged crime. Even if innocent.

Denied due process. Losing their homes at the same time. Collectively punishing everyone in them.

Israeli justice for accused Palestinians is none at all. It bears repeating. Its convoluted legal system reflects pure “atavistic revenge.”

An ICAHD press release accuses Israel of “sow(ing) despair and senseless violence.” Israel denies Palestinians self-determination.

Despite international law calling it a universal right. Palestinians are virtually imprisoned in ghettoized cantons. Victimized unfairly.

Persecuted. Denied all fundamental rights. Impoverished. Dispossessed. Even their only place of refuge is targeted.

Leaving them no safe haven. Defenseless. Vulnerable to all forms of Israeli viciousness. With no way to stop it.

No help from Western leaders able to make a difference. Turning a blind eye to Israeli lawlessness. The grossest of gross injustice.

Including ruthlessness writ large. Genocidal mass murder and destruction. Torture. Land theft. Settlements. House demolitions.

Institutionalized racism. Brutalizing Palestinians for not being Jews. Treating them like subhumans. Like yesterday’s garbage.

Like vermin to be discarded. Eliminated. Destroyed. Including demolishing their homes.

Their most precious possession. HaMoked et al contends Israel’s policy violates core international law.

Saying “over the years there have been significant developments in international law, including international criminal law, but the Supreme Court of Israel has not addressed these developments in its expansive jurisprudence on house demolitions and should do so now.”

Expert legal opinion supports HaMoked’s petition. Including top Israeli jurists. International, constitutional, military law experts.

Saying house demolitions constitute a grave international humanitarian and human rights law violation.

Contradicting Israeli law. Prohibiting punishing anyone except offenders. According to HaMoked:

“The(ir) opinion stresses that the house demolition policy could amount to a war crime in certain circumstances and that it may put all those involved in its implementation at risk.”

“HaMoked believes that a situation in which the judiciary and the relevant academic community are so divided on such a pivotal, fundamental legal issue, at the very least calls for renewed deliberations on the issues of principle.”

Israel responded to HaMoked et al’s petition. Ignoring legal and moral principles. According to international human rights lawyer Michael Sfard:

“The State in its response requests the court not to discuss the substantial and general arguments of the organizations and attempts, once again, to avoid discussing the morality and legality of the punitive house demolition policy.”

“The petitioners point to the fact that the Supreme Court has never actually discussed the argument raised by all international law experts both in Israel and worldwide, that this policy constitutes a brazen violation of the prohibitions established by international law.”

“The State in its response fails to point at even one judgment which refutes said argument.”

On December 3, Israel’s HCJ heard arguments for and against home demolitions. HaMoked et al wants a clearly illegal policy stopped.

Other human rights groups involved include Yesh Din, Bimkom, B’Tselem, Public Committee Against Torture, Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights and Rabbis for Human Rights.

Represented by Michael Sfard, Noa Amrami and Roni Pell. Israel represented by state prosecution attorney Aner Hellman. Claiming Israel’s policy is “deterrence.” Not punishment.

With no need to “deter” potential Jewish community perpetrators. So no point in demolishing their homes.

Petitioners call demolitions “collective punishment.” Flagrantly violating international law. Punishing Palestinians alone shows racist discrimination.

Israeli settlers abducted Mohammed Abu Khdeir. Doused him with petrol. Burned him alive. A revenge attack for killing three West Bank Israeli Jews he had nothing to do with.

Israel didn’t demolish homes of suspected killers. Despite the nature of their crime. Horrendous by any standard.

Sfard said “harming innocent (Palestinians) raises serious (legal and) moral issues.”

“We believe that after 36 or 29 years, this issue should be examined, especially since so many changes have occurred in international law since the 1980′s…”

“Anyone who teaches international law teaches that that clause is illegal. Jewish law also forbids collective punishment.”

Hellman ludicrously claimed Israel uses its authority sparingly. “Where the Israeli and international law clash, Israeli law takes precedence,” he said.

Sfard maintained that “(i)f this clause (permitting demolitions) were enacted today, (Israel’s HCJ) would revoke it, because it contradicts the vital core of (Israeli) Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty.”

Saying in part:

“The purpose of this Basic Law is to protect human dignity and liberty, in order to establish in a Basic Law the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”

“There shall be no violation of the life, body or dignity of any person as such.”

“There shall be no violation of the property of a person.”

“All persons are entitled to protection of their life, body and dignity.”

“There shall be no deprivation or restriction of the liberty of a person by imprisonment, arrest, extradition or otherwise.”

“All persons have the right to privacy and to intimacy. There shall be no entry into the private premises of a person who has not consented thereto.”

“No search shall be conducted on the private premises of a person, nor in the body or personal effects.”

“All governmental authorities are bound to respect the rights under this Basic Law.”

“This Basic Law cannot be varied, suspended or made subject to conditions by emergency regulations.”

Justices Elyakim Rubinstein, Esther Hayut and Noam Sohlberg heard specific petitions against demolishing family homes of two Palestinians involved in Har Nof synagogue killings.

Family lawyer Andre Rosenthal said doing so has no deterrent effect. “There’s no evidence of this,” he said.

“The result is the opposite. It leaves the hatred and the possibility that the remaining family relatives will avenge the demolition of their home.”

No evidence shows their involvement in what happened. “Their only ties to it are blood ties,” said Rosenthal.

“Are these the values Israel is advancing, demolishing the home of an uninvolved family because maybe it will serve as deterrence?”

“How do we know demolitions deter? They’ve been practiced for decades. Have the terror attacks ceased because of them?”

It remains to be seen how HCJ rules. If past is prologue, expect injustice.

Rarely ever does Israel’s High Court uphold Palestinian rights. Expect nothing different this time.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Challenging I$raHell House Demolition Policy

Anger Follows New York Grand Jury’s Failure to Indict Cop who Killed Eric Garner

Global Research

Workers and youth reacted with outrage to the news that a grand jury in the New York City borough of Staten Island had decided not to indict New York Police Department officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.

The killing of Garner, which happened in July, was captured on a cellphone video seen by millions of people around the world.

This is the second failure to indict a cop for a high-profile killing of an unarmed African-American man in less than two weeks. On November 24, St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced that there would be no charges against Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Image: Crowds protesting in New York City

On Wednesday evening, hundreds of protesters in New York City assembled in Union Square and Times Square in Manhattan and marched to Rockefeller Center. Dozens of people were arrested.

The grand jury proceedings in Staten Island were highly manipulated to produce the desired result. Richmond County (Staten Island) District Attorney Daniel Donovan impaneled the 23-person grand jury on August 19, and the deliberations were dragged out for many weeks. Donovan, like McCulloch in Missouri, allowed the killer cop to give his side of the story without any cross-examination of the sort that he would face at trial.

Image: Marching hands up out of Times Square

Grand juries almost always return indictments sought by prosecutors. As in the case of Brown’s killer, the prosecutor who brought the case has close ties to the police and worked to ensure that no charges would be filed.

The decision not to indict Pantaleo—even on the lesser charges of manslaughter and reckless endangerment—is another declaration by the ruling class that the police can and will act with impunity, and that they can kill without consequence.

There will be no trial in the killing of Garner despite clear evidence that a crime was committed. Garner was harassed by police on the afternoon of July 17 in Tompkinsville, a largely African-American neighborhood in Staten Island, for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes.

As seen on the video, police then wrestled Garner to the ground while Pantaleo applied an illegal chokehold. Garner can be heard on the video telling the cops repeatedly that he cannot breathe.

Yesterday evening Jonathan Moore, the Garner family’s attorney, told the media that he was “astonished” by the decision not to indict. Esaw Garner, Garner’s wife said, “The grand jury kept interviewing witnesses, but you didn’t need witnesses. You can be a witness for yourself.”

Ben Garner, the victim’s father, told the Staten Island Advance, “Who can control the Police Department? We had a damn video tape.”

The anger over the decision to exonerate Pantaleo is connected to the long history of abuse and outright murder by New York City police.

One only has to recount the names of Amadou Diallo (shot 41 times after reaching for his wallet on February 4, 1999), Sean Bell (shot on his wedding night November 25, 2006), and Ramarley Graham (shot in his apartment on February 2, 2012). Abner Louima was beaten and sodomized by cops on August 9, 1997. Last month, unarmed Akai Gurley was shot by an officer in the unlit stairway of a Brooklyn housing project. Of these, only the assailants of Louima received any punishment.

The decision in Staten Island makes clear that both police violence and the determination of the ruling class to prevent any accountability for this violence are not confined to Ferguson, Missouri. Throughout the country, the police, increasingly armed with advanced military equipment, treat the population as a hostile force.

Democratic Party politicians moved quickly on Wednesday in an attempt to contain popular anger with empty phrases, while covering up their own culpability for the outcome. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared at a press conference on Staten Island, “Our history requires us to say that black lives matter.” He added that his son, who is black, could be the object of police violence.

De Blasio went on to praise New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. “The department will act aggressively to ensure that any officer who is not meant to be in this work no longer is.”

De Blasio’s assurances mean nothing. He promised to supply body cameras for New York’s police officers, but failed to explain how this would make any difference, when even graphic video evidence of the role of the police in the death of Eric Garner was not enough to secure an indictment.

On Wednesday evening, US Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Obama administration would convene a federal civil rights inquiry into Garner’s death.

In a statement, President Barack Obama declared, with consummate hypocrisy, “When anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law, that’s a problem.” He added that he hoped a recently appointed national task force would help ensure that “everybody has confidence in the system.”

The real attitude of the Obama administration, however, was made clear earlier this week, when the president gave his full backing to programs that transfer of military equipment to police forces. A White House review of these programs concluded that that “have been valuable and have provided state and local law enforcement with needed assistance as they carry out their critical missions in helping to keep the American people safe.”

As police killing follows police killing, the true nature of the “critical missions” alluded to by Obama become more and more clear. The massive police apparatus, expanded under the Obama administration and increasingly integrated with the military, is seen as a critical force for repression of growing popular anger. The “war on terror” is aimed ever more directly at the population within the United States.

Posted in USAComments Off on Anger Follows New York Grand Jury’s Failure to Indict Cop who Killed Eric Garner

For the first time I$raHell high court wrestles with legality of punitive home demolitions


Palestinian women stand in front of her Home

Israel’s renewed policy of punitive home demolitions was challenged in its highest court yesterday. The case comes as the Israeli government has ordered the homes of six Palestinians suspected in a series of Jerusalem attacks to be demolished. In the past judges have heard arguments to overturn demolitions on a case by case basis, but this was the first in Israel’s history to address the legality of the practice as such. And the hearing came with immediate consequences. The homes of five Palestinian families are slated for demolition, and one demolition has already been carried out.

The Abu Jamal family sat in wooden benches in the rear of the courtroom. They are the relatives of Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal Mukabar who killed five Israelis—four rabbis and one Druze police officer—in a gruesome West Jerusalem attack on November 18, 2014. They are in a bad way. On numerous occasions they readily condemned the slayings to the press. Despite their protests, Ghassan Abu Jamal’s wife and three children now face homelessness if the court upholds punitive home demolitions.

In Israel, as home demolitions stand now they can be ordered against the family houses of convicted and suspected attackers.

The petitioners, eight human rights groups, called for abandoning the practice along the same terms that were used in 2005 when the army unilaterally decided to stop razing homes as punishment at the end of the second Intifada. Lawyers with the Israeli human rights legal group Yesh Din cited the Shani Committee Report, the 2004 army document that deemed punitive home demolitions ineffective. The findings also stated destroying homes increases Israel’s insecurity, as demolitions bolster sentiments against the state.

“There is no data that shows these actions prevent of deter terrorism,” Yesh Din’s Andre Rosenthal told the court. “It is unethical, it violates international law and it is collective punishment,” he continued, “the act just increases hatred–there actually is nothing that would even justify the demolition of a home.”

“The direct harm of innocent people can’t be placed on the court’s hope that it will have a deterring effect, with all due respect,” said Yesh Din’s Michael Sfard, a leading Israeli human rights attorney with a reputation for taking on the state’s most controversial policies.

State attorneys insisted the court must support home demolitions because they deters attacks against Israel and its citizens, although they offered no evidence to back up the claim. State attorneys loosely left it at, “Those on the ground say it decreases [attacks],” adding, “There are sources.”

Israelis want a solution to the current strife in Jerusalem and they are looking to the court to provide an answer to lone wolf attacks. So the suggestion that home demolition could act as a deterrent appeared to prevail among the jurists even though the only evidence presented to the court on the effectiveness of the practice was the Shani report’s conclusion to the contrary.

“We’re not talking about punishment, but deterrence. The attacks haven’t stopped. There is no evidence [it is not a deterrent],” said a judge. As they considered the case, the tone from the bench was sympathetic towards Palestinians who had no part in the crimes that warranted demolition orders. “No one feel comfortable with the practice. No one takes it lightly,” said a judge.

State attorneys also challenged the use of debating the overall legality of home demolitions. They said the court had already done it. But Yesh Din’s Sfard disagreed stating after the trial, “In the hearing I challenged the state attorney to give an example of one case in the 30 years or more that this power has been used and implemented in which the court has ruled on these arguments,” He added, “As you could see in the hearing the state attorney could not point to even one ruling in which these arguments have been ruled.”

If Israel had developed their own customary law against home demolitions, the court would have followed that. But since they don’t, arguments of international law could be presented. However, Israeli courts do not apply the Fourth Geneva Convention to the occupied territories under the claim they previously did not hold status of a state.

“I think that it’s about time that the Israeli supreme court convene a serious hearing and discuss these matters because our position is that punitive house demolitions is one of the most heinous acts committed against–crimes actually–committed against innocent people,” Sfard continued.

In the court’s debate some of the arguments were technical, although not needlessly. Historically, punitive demolitions exist in a gray space in Israel but they are strictly illegal under international law. There is no explicit Israeli legislation green-lighting the practice, although one was introduced last week to the Knesset. Punishing home demolitions were adopted into both Israeli criminal code (practiced inside of Israel and East Jerusalem) and military code (practiced for residents of Gaza and the West Bank) when British Mandate emergency regulations were carried over en masse in May 1948, and in 1967, respectively.Regulation 119 allowed British authorities, now the Israelis, to “destroy the house or the structure or anything on growing on the land,” or “seize and occupy, without compensation” homes of persons where who conducted violent crimes.

Punitive home demolitions were re-instituted last month after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he wanted to restore calm to Jerusalem and the nation, yet in reality they had restarted in the months before. In July, demolitions were ordered for the homes of Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisha, the two men suspected of kidnapping and murdering three Israeli settlers last June–Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach. Also, Abdel Rahman al-Shaludi was gunned down by an off-duty officer following a Jerusalem hit-and-run at a light rail station, and his family home where his three children resided was demolished by explosives in November.

In August the Israeli human rights group HaMoked attempted to cancel the Qawasmeh and Abu Aisha demolition orders in the high court. In that case, the court upheld the demolitions without discussing the merits of the law behind it. “The deterring purpose,”wrote Justice Noam Sohlbergthe bench’s first settler jurist appointed in 2012, “necessarily entails the impingement of innocent people. Otherwise, how shall deterrence be achieved? The sour fruits of the murderous terror compel us deter in advance against a horrible act.”

Outside of the courtroom, the Abu Jamal family left disheartened fearing the impending destruction of their house. They spoke of clashes from the night before and three border police checkpoints erected on the hill where their homes sit, and a series of shops demolished in nearby Shuafat refugee camp, but refused interviews or photographs. As of now, there is an injunction freezing the destruction of their homes until the three-judge panel makes a ruling, which is expected in the coming weeks. The judges found the court does not need reconvene again to debate this matter further.


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I$raHell proposed Jewish nationality law is a flop on Broadway




The new Israeli cabinet proposal to define Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people is doing one good thing: mainstreaming harsh criticism of Israel in the United States. Shimon Peres’s prediction that the bill would “destroy Israel’s democratic status at home and abroad” seems to be coming true. Americans for Peace Now openly characterizes the proposed law, which passed the rightwing cabinet, as a form of “fascism.” The New York Times called the proposed law “heartbreaking” last week, and the editors are still upset this week, Omar Barghouti reported further up Broadway, at Columbia University on Tuesday night:

I had a meeting with editors and journalists at the New York Times this morning. They’re really stuck with this one!

In his speech that night, Barghouti said that the law is important because it makes the contradiction between an ethnocracy and a democracy completely obvious to people. “The last mask of Israel’s so called democracy has been dropped,” he said. “The oxymoron of the Jewish and democratic identity of the state of Israel is unraveling.” He said the law is also a blow to the “Israelification” of Palestinians inside Israel — where there are 50 laws that discriminate against them and in favor of Jews.

Surprisingly, Foreign Policy echoes Barghouti’s points in a piece titled “A Country That Never Wanted Me,” by the expatriate writer Sayed Kashua. Kashua used to be an advertisement for the Israelification of Palestinians inside Israel. Now Foreign Policy is printing statements of Palestinian conditions that used to be at the margins of the American discourse, albeit tagged as “argument” by the editors:

Palestinians in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip, occupied since 1967, have no citizen’s rights at all, but even we, Palestinian Arab citizens of the State of Israel, are discriminated against in every sphere of life: There are enormous budgeting gaps in education, infrastructure, health, welfare, and employment, all of which are funded with taxes collected from all of us.
For instance, not a single Arab town has been established since the State of Israel was founded — in contrast with some 700 Jewish settlements. Arabs are generally consigned to live in the same villages where they were born: crowded, poor, neglected villages that cannot be compared with any Jewish settlement in Israel.

Many Palestinian citizens of Israel are actually welcoming the new law. This is not because they think it will benefit them or improve their condition in any way. They are simply happy that discrimination may be legislated explicitly, rather than remain hidden behind the smokescreen called “democracy.” Many Arabs think that this nationality act, which is de facto in force anyway, will expose the reality of the Israeli ethnocracy: that Israeli democracy is for the benefit of Jews only….

Bernard Avishai writes in the New Yorker that the law represents a triumph of Zionism over democracy in an age-old tension in the Israeli polity. And it will turn Israel into a “little Jewish Pakistan.”

One should think of Israel as having two competing legal structures: a gradually evolving democratic state and the remnants of the old Zionist settler colony…. this bill is about writing into the law old Zionist provisions that have morphed into racist and theocratic practices. It will make judicial correctives nearly impossible….

If it comes to an election, it will be best for democratic forces to unify, not only around what Israel does, but what Israel is. Israelis not in the thrall of settler fanaticism need to decide whether they want to be part of the democratic Western world or not.

The Pakistan analogy is also the heart of a Washington Post piece by Ishan Tharoor comparing Israel as a sectarian Jewish state to Pakistan, as “historical twins.” I was stunned to see his analogy in the neoconservative organ.

“Pakistan is like Israel, an ideological state,” said then Pakistani President Zia ul-Haq in 1981. “Take out the Judaism from Israel and it will fall like a house of cards. Take Islam out of Pakistan and make it a secular state; it would collapse.”…

Netanyahu himself is attempting to push through a controversial lawthat would cement Israel’s status as a “Jewish nation-state,” privileging the collective rights of Israeli Jews over the interests of Israeli minorities. It’s a proposal that plays well among Israel’s right-wing, including communities of settlers living in the West Bank.

By the way, Barghouti pointed out that Pakistan is just a bit more unpopular in the world than Israel, which is battling it out with North Korea to see which will be 3rd and 4th least popular.

Avital Burg makes the inevitable analogy in the Forward: “If America Had Laws Like Israel:”

A new proposed bill, supported by senators on both sides of the aisle, will finally define and determine the United States of America as the land of the Protestant People, the largest religious constituency in the U.S. and the group out of which America’s founding fathers and ruling leadership emerged.

Finally, for a dissenting view, you should hear Nadia Abu El-Haj, Barnard anthropologist and chair of Barghouti’s Columbia appearance at the Center for Palestine Studies Tuesday night. She said that she was less sanguine about the effects of the law on American consciousness than Barghouti is.

It’s not that the argument that Israel can’t be both a Jewish and democratic state is new. That’s an argument that people have been making for a long time. Yes, this law brings it into a kind of sharp relief. What’s interesting and something we have to think about, and I don’t have an easy answer, I’m just putting it out is: why it is that it’s not seen as equivalent as saying, This is a Christian state which is also democratic, or this is a white state which is also democratic. It is not seen as an equivalent statement. I think that conviction that there’s something different here — about claiming Israel is a Jewish state and yet democratic, its nonequivalence with either a racial state that is white or a religious state that is Christian– is very deep. I don’t see this law suddenly jolting people out of their cognitive dissonance. A lot of the coverage has been quite clear on this.. Reporters are struggling with this: Well, in some ways it’s not new, but it enshrines it in a certain way.

That’s when Barghouti reported on his meeting at the New York Times. To be continued!

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Congress enshrines I$raHell in a new class of ally

  • US Senate OKs $225 million in aid for Israeli Iron Do…

  • US Senate elevates Israel’s status as ‘major strategi..

The omnibus bill full of measures to improve the relationship between Israel and the United States now goes to Obama for his signature.

With final passage of the US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act on Wednesday, Congress has created a new legal category of partnership specifically for the State of Israel.

Declared a major strategic partner – a designation held by no other country – the law seeks to establish a new framework within the category that will enhance cooperation across industries, with a focus on defense technologies.

The designation is an upgrade for Israel from “major non-NATO ally,” the country’s legal status as a US ally since 1988.

The president is authorized, the law reads, to “share and exchange with Israel research, technology, intelligence, information, equipment, and personnel that will advance US national security interests and enhance US-Israel scientific cooperation.”

The law calls for an expanded role for Israel with NATO.

Now headed to US President Barack Obama’s desk, the act was authored by Reps.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), Ted Deutch (D-Florida), Ed Royce (R-California) and Eliot Engel (D-New York), and Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-California) and Roy Blunt (R-Missouri).

Hill aides said they expect the president to sign the act into law. The White House declined to comment on its passage on Wednesday evening.

“This legislation names Israel as a major strategic partner, demonstrating that our relationship is not transactional. It’s not assistance-based,” said Engel on the House floor on Wednesday.

Specifically, Engel said, the bill will “build on our robust defense cooperation… ramp up US-Israel collaboration on cybersecurity, expand US-Israel energy cooperation, and reaffirm our commitment to Israel’s… qualitative military edge.”

The president is given new authorization to grant assistance to cooperative efforts on energy, water, homeland security, agriculture and alternative fuel technologies. The act also seeks to promote academic partnerships, similar to Cornell University’s recent alliance with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in New York.

“A Hamas plot to kill scores of Israelis was uncovered just last week, while a regime in Tehran seeks to acquire a nuclear warhead and the missiles to deliver it. All this while ISIS is at Israel’s front doorstep,” said Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“That is why today’s legislation is so important.”

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